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Date of Issue: March 04, 2009

New fee schedule in Anna Maria

The cost of doing business with Anna Maria is going up.

City commissioners at their Feb. 26 meeting unanimously approved a new fee schedule that either raises a host of fees charged by the city for a variety of services, or charges for a service that was previously free.

The commission had been considering the measure for more than two years, since former building official Kevin Donohue presented the idea.

Building official Bob Welch finalized a fee schedule and the commission did not disagree with the final resolution.

Among charges, a site plan review now costs an applicant $3,000, while a comprehensive plan amendment is $6,000. A small-scale amendment to the comp-plan is $2,000, while a rezone amendment is $2,500.

Other fees include $500 for a special event permit with alcohol served and $500 for a variance request. A special event permit without alcohol is $100.

Welch noted that the applicant does not get a refund if something such as a variance request or a comp-plan amendment is denied.

Commissioner Chuck Webb agreed with the fee schedule, but said the commission should keep track of how well the schedule works for both the public and the city, and plan to review the fees after several months.

Stimulus projects

Mayor Fran Barford told the commission that U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan (R-Longboat Key) has obtained between $9 million and $11 million in federal stimulus money for Manatee County transportation projects and Anna Maria could get a slice of the federal pie if it acts quickly to get projects “shovel ready.”

The projects needed to be forwarded as quickly as possible to the Manatee-Sarasota Metropolitan Planning Organization and the Florida Department of Transportation for review and approval, Barford said.

The mayor said the staff “devoted itself to working long hours” the past week getting projects ready and forwarded to the DOT and MPO. Projects for consideration by the two agencies include sidewalks, Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue paving, trolley shelters, and improvements to the city’s two bridges.

The city could get up to $120,000 to repave Gulf Drive and Pine Avenue, and $650,000 is available for bridge improvements, Barford said.

“We’re now working with the DOT and waiting on direction,” she said.

City audit

City auditor Ed Leonard gave the city a “clean, unqualified audit” for its financial records for 2007-08, the highest possible rating allowed by Florida law.

He noted that ad valorem tax revenues dropped by 7 percent from the previous year, and the city spent $2.6 million, while generating only $2.3 million in revenues.

However, he said that $203,000 of that difference is due from the Southwest Florida Water Management District as Swiftmud’s share of the matching grant that funded stormwater improvements in the city.

Zoning map

Commissioners gave Welch consensus approval to proceed with changing the city’s zoning map to match that of the future land-use element of the comprehensive plan as required by the Florida Department of Community Affairs.

City planner Alan Garrett noted that there are six lots in the commercial district that will be rezoned to retail-office-residential to conform to the FLUM, and about six other lots elsewhere that will be affected.

Mattick asked if the owner of a property slated to be rezoned from commercial to ROR could keep the commercial designation, but Garrett said that was not permissible under the current city code.

“But a property owner has the right to file a small area development amendment to the comprehensive plan,” to retain a zoning designation, he said.

The application is at the property owner’s expense and there is no refund if the application is denied, Garrett said.

The map will be presented at a public hearing when it’s finished, but Welch and Garrett will wait to complete the map until the city commission completes its public hearings on combining the Residential 2 zoning district with Residential 1. The first public hearing on that ordinance is scheduled for March 12.

Commissioner Dale Woodland suggested it would be wise to ensure that individual property owners receive notice of the proposed new zoning map as it will likely create a lot of non-conformities.

Garrett said notice of the hearing will be sent to as many people as possible.

Stormwater project

Barford said Swiftmud has notified the city that it should start Phase II of the city’s master stormwater drainage plan on or before June 9.

City Pier Centennial Committee

The commission approved Barford and Mattick as liaisons to the City Pier Centennial Committee and approved the mayor’s appointment of Sissy Quinn as the chairperson.

Other committee members appointed by Barford are Mady Iseman, SueLynn, Richard Thomas, Joan Voyles and Betty Yanger.